Hey, Mama? Please don’t look at me that way.

With disappointment in your eyes and a tremble in your lip as you breathe deeply in, then deeply out; battling the frustration you feel bubbling up within.

I know I’m not always easy. Sometimes I’m downright difficult. Sometimes I look you in the eye with every bit of defiance I can muster and I punctuate my stubborn, “No!” with a well-timed stomp just for good measure.

But do you remember, Mama? Do you remember you used to be my age, too? When the world was so big and brand new?

You know so much now, but it wasn’t always that way. You had to learn, too, just like me.

You had to learn how to mold Play-Doh without crumbling it into a million pieces, and that sheets of paper—not walls—are for drawing on.

You had to learn what it meant when your mom said, “Hurry! We’re going to be late!” and how to pick up the pace accordingly.

You had to learn how to snap your pants, and button your shirt, and put your shoes on the right feet. Did your mom grow impatient, too? Did she say, “Here, let me do it,” like you so often say to me, or did she let you practice so you could manage to do it on your own?

You had to learn to tune in and follow directions the very first time, rather than giving in to your every impulse. That’s hard—really hard—but you learned and someday I will, too.

You had to learn how to sit and eat your dinner, even the parts you weren’t so fond of, and how to tip your cup gently to your lips without spilling down your front, calling for (yet another) wardrobe change.

You had to learn how to stay in bed when it was time to go to sleep, and that nighttime is for sleeping and not for tantrums or play. Were you ever afraid of the shadows in the corner? Did you ever cry and ask to sleep safely between your parents like I do?

You had to learn to keep rude comments to yourself; how it isn’t appropriate to always speak your mind; and that some things are just better left unsaid.

You had to learn how to handle your big emotions, the ones that are so overwhelming at times. You had to learn how to remain calm instead of throwing yourself onto the floor, kicking your legs and pounding your fists as screams flew from your mouth.

You had to learn what each little phrase meant—you know, like the ones you say to me now. The ones that sometimes I don’t understand. It’s not that I’m trying to ignore you as I stand there with a blank look on my face. But sometimes . . . I just don’t get it.

I’m just a toddler, Mama, and I’m learning so many new things each and every day. The same way you learned all of the same lessons so many years ago. The same way you tell me you’re still learning new things.

I know I make messes and scatter toys across the house. I know I look you in the eye and do for the tenth time exactly what you asked me to stop doing after the fifth.

I know I can be stubborn, and ornery, and exhausting, and frustrating. I know.

I’m sorry, Mama. I don’t mean to make things hard.

The truth is, there is no one else on this Earth who I would rather make proud.

There’s no one else who makes my heart soar the way you do, or who teaches me as many valuable lessons.

There’s no one else whose hug I would get lost in, or whose soft whisper of “It’s OK. I love you,” is more welcome in my ear.

The thing is, you’re my world . . . and even when you’re frustrated, even when I’m difficult—I know I’m your world, too.

So please, please, Mama, just remember . . . I’m still learning.

You might also like:

It’s OK to Stay Home, Mama

You’re So Much More Than “Just” a Stay-at-Home Mom

Why Tired Mothers Stay Up So Late

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I’m sorry, Mama. I don’t mean to make things hard. #toddler #parenting #raisingkids

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward